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Heathrow and 'Boris Island' plans back on radar

More airport capacity is needed in the South-east of England for the country to remain a competitive force in world trade, David Cameron warned yesterday.

He said the Government would carefully examine the case for a new "Boris Island" airport in the Thames estuary, the pet project of the London Mayor, Boris Johnson.

But Mr Cameron's words will also reopen the possibility of expanding Heathrow airport later in the decade, even though a third runway has been ruled out by the Coalition.

The Prime Minister insisted that Britain should not surrender its status as an important hub for global air travel. "I'm not blind to the need to increase airport capacity, particularly in the South-east," he said in a speech in London.

He admitted that the issue was controversial, but stressed Britain needed to take decisions for the long term, suggesting the Government's forthcoming aviation policy would re-examine the possibility of a new runway at Heathrow, as well as expanding capacity at Gatwick.